Michael Derrick isn’t your typical 38 year old. The fact is he is doing what some would only dream of. As a restaurateur and owner of Tim Horton’s franchises, Michael and his wife Jennifer could have sat back and enjoyed the success of their business, but God had other plans. In the height of their success, God began pulling at Michael’s heart to do work for a Kingdom purpose.
At the pinnacle of worldly success, Michael knew there was more. After receiving the call to ministry in 2005 and seeking God’s direction, God began to resurrect the love Michael had since he was a boy—horses. Michael had grown up loving and caring for horses since the age of five and an opportunity presented itself to adopt troubled wild mustangs. This opportunity coupled together with his faith and desire to reach out led Michael to establish a growing ministry in 2006 that simultaneously accomplishes two purposes—reaches young people for Christ and rescues wild mustangs from the ravages of death. The ministry, based out of West Falls (just south of Orchard Park), titled Saving Wild Horses Through Grace Ministries has enabled him to reach and lead many people to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. When God says he uses the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, Saving Wild Horses embodies that truth. Michael explains, “God made horses to be relational creatures. God uses horses within our ministry to build relationship with the youth and adults we work with. This gives opportunity for us to have an open door to share the message of the Gospel with these broken souls.”
After all, explaining how God uses wild horses to reveal His character is somewhat out of the ordinary. Yet, Michael’s experience confirms what the Bible teaches— God can and will use anything to accomplish His purposes, including animals. The ministry’s work with troubled teens, inner city youth and various outreaches have led hundreds of people to Christ while at the same time restoring beautiful mustangs to usefulness as trained riding horses. The ministry reveals how God uses our passions, gifting and past to be used for his glory while also showing what obedience can and will do.
As is usually the case, the call of God is not without sacrifice. To accommodate the vision of building a first class horse ranch with proper facilities and land, Michael was led to sell his 5,000 square foot Executive Estate and downsized considerably in order to devote more time to the ministry. The other demand is caring for the nearly 20 horses within the ministry’s care. As more people get involved, the ministry is able to reach more children for Christ and save more horses, a combination
that attracts visitors to the ministry’s headquarters each year for their annual fall outreach, summer Riding Into Revival and numerous other events the ministry hosts. The annual harvest event and outreach draws hundreds of visitors to attractions like wagon rides, kid’s games and a clear presentation of the gospel through music, drama and clown ministry. The ministry depends on individual and corporate donors who believe in the vision of restoration as well as individuals who want to “adopt” a horse or sponsor a child, helping to underwrite the increasing costs of caring for horses and conducting effective outreach events, provided free by the ministry. Additionally opportunities are available for horse sponsorships to those who may want to own one of the horses yet may not have the space or facilities to keep the horse on their own property. In the end, through it all, it is the ministry’s desire to serve as many and reach as many people for Christ as possible while serving the community.